The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution Tuesday calling for the swift pullout of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia’s embattled northern Tigray region.
The eight-month war between Ethiopian federal forces and Tigray’s former ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, has killed thousands of people, forced some 2 million others to flee their homes and driven about 400,000 into famine.
The council said Eritrean troops were “exacerbating the conflict” that continued Tuesday with the TPLF’s capture of Alamata, the main town in southern Tigray, according to AFP. The town’s reported capture came two weeks after the federal government declared a unilateral cease-fire, following rebel advances.
“What is happening in the Tigray region in Ethiopia is appalling,” said Ambassador Lotte Knudsen, head of the EU delegation to the U.N., which presented the resolution. It is imperative for the Human Rights Council to be able to address this situation.”
UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement that “The violence and intimidation of Eritrean refugees must stop. Refugees are civilians in need of and with the right to international protection.”
Eritrea voted against the U.N. resolution to immediately withdraw its troops from the region, which is also a key TPLF demand in cease-fire negotiations.
Fighting between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF broke out in November. Troops from Eritrea, Ethiopia’s neighbor to the north, and Amhara, a neighboring region to the south of Tigray, also entered the conflict in support of the Ethiopian government.